Rainsford Farewell
2008 May 25
by Jim Low

I lived at 111 Rainsford Road in Toronto for over 33 years: from 1974 October 16 to 2008 June 26 where my family of four children were raised.  It was an emotional time to sell and move.  At the farewell gathering, all members of the family were present, along with spouses, significant others and close friends along with the new owners.  I made a speech at the time, which appears here.


The gathering at Rainsford 2008 May 25.
Standing left to right:  Carrie (daughter), Karen, David, Kate, Peter (son), Cheryl (daughter),
Eleanor (former wife and mother of my children), Meredith, Jameel, Kim, Jerry (son), Katrina, Brian.
Seated left to right: Michael (purchaser of Rainsford), Vera (purchaser of Rainsford), Jim (me) holding Kate-Lynn (granddaughter).
Standing in front of Michael: Lily (granddaughter)
Sitting on grass: Amelia (granddaughter), Arlie (granddaughter), Rissa (Meredith's granddaughter) holding Finn (grandson), Nolan (grandson)

Jim's "Rainsford Farewell" speech:

Rainsford is a joy, and I thank all of you for joining me today to experience this joy.  For a third of a century, Rainsford has been our home.  During this period we have experienced both wonderful and difficult times, which is what life is all about.  It was during the difficult times when we found the security of home the most comforting and during the good times, such as now, when we enjoyed it the most.

Why pass on Rainsford now?  As most of you know, I would have stayed forever.  But nothing is “forever” and I had to find the best time to pass on the Rainsford home for others to enjoy.  When is the best time?  It is now, when both life and the home is a joy.  Had I tried to hold on much longer, keeping the home would have become a burden, and felt the best time to pass it on was while it is still a joy and remains so in my mind for the rest of my life.

Welcome to Michael and Vera.  I hope you find your new home on Rainsford as much of a joy to you as it has been for us.

There is much history in the Rainsford Home which as been occupied by only two families in the past 84 of it’s 95 years.  I won’t go into details of the history.  However, as some of you know, I have a habit of writing and journaling, and in the years we have been here, I have written many articles about our family and home.  I would like to share with you just three of my short journal entries that gives some feeling of our home.

The Verandah

My children grew up in the blink of an eye as I sat on the verandah.  They were busy on the lawn and street in front of my verandah engaged in the truly important things of life: skipping rope, riding tricycles, playing ball and street hockey, and engaged in voicefull expressions of joy and happiness with their many friends.

The lawn in front of my verandah is the worst looking on the block.  You can have a nice lawn or children, but not both.  I neglected the lawn and welcomed the children.  It became known in my neighbourhood that the lawn in front of my verandah was open to all.  Oh, sometimes I gave out a hurrumph when my flowers were picked or a ball went flying through the window.  But I always welcomed them back when I calmed down—usually five minutes later.

For much of my life, I watched and guided my four children from the verandah.  But one day, they were gone.  They moved on to start their own families in their own homes.  But they keep coming back with my grandchildren.  For some reason, they can’t find a better place to hang out.

The Back Lane

Catch a monarch butterfly then let her fly away.  Feel the tickle of a ladybug as she strolls along your arm today.  Colourful wild flowers sprouting between the cracks of broken pavement makes the perfect bouquet.  Collect your autumn leaves to show off nature’s display.  In winter, build the snow forts and snowmen to guard your way.  In summer build a treehouse from scraps the workers throw away.

Rich is life in our urban back lane.  It awakens the dreams, imagination, and freedom of youth who find the back lane grander than any playground.  While adults in our mature community carefully tend their front lawns, they ignore the back lane.  Thank goodness.  This bestows upon children the freedom to relate with nature as she makes inroads into the urban lane.  Neglected?  No.  Attentively tended by our flowering youth.

Building that clubhouse by the back lane is a child's first experience in planning and co-operation with peers.  Constructed out of scraps of wood and metal with a roof consisting of a discarded paint-covered tarpaulin, and furnished with chairs and mattresses that never survived the front curb for trash pickup, it’s the pride of our gang.  It may be an eyesore to adults, but it is the most beautiful house in the world to the children who built it.  Neighbourhood children develop their own community spirit.

Beautiful yellow flowers sprout around the old rusted paint can.  Adults call them weeds; to children they are Dandy Lions.  Insects and birds challenge you to play with them.  Angels and mysterious tracks appear in the snow.  Remember when you were a child: you noticed a new weed growing at the back of your property by the lane? You grow up to discover that “weed” has grown into a large tree.  Now you see children climbing and building their new playhouse in that tree.  Hanging from a limb is a swing made of rope tied about an old bicycle lock.  Today, two girls knock on my kitchen window that looks out over the back lane.  “May we play on your swing?” they ask.  My swing?   “Of course” I reply.  Watching them play I kept thinking: my swing.  When they finish, it will be my turn on my swing.

Have you explored your back lane recently?  Looks terrible?  It's beauty from heaven to children.  Look at your local back lane through the eyes of youth again.

The Miracle of Rainsford

Life is full of joy and laughter, along with pain and tears.   Both laughter and tears are essential for positive spiritual growth.  For years, my family grew.  But I grew most of all.  Immense happiness I felt, watching and guiding my children through their early years: the camping; many birthdays; walks to the park and beach; the playful games on the street.  Toys scattered about our home and yard was our beautiful decor.  Sound of children’s laughter brought joy to my heart.  Our “family room” was the large kitchen where my children and all their friends would gather as the rich aroma of fresh baking beckoned welcome and happiness to all.

Speaking of the kitchen:  Often, after the routine Saturday morning grocery shopping, the kids would rummage through the cupboards and fridge. “There’s no food in this house!” echoed through the rooms.  Of course not. There’s only milk, juice, fruit and vegetables.  No pop, chips, and other “real” food.

Memories of my children growing up appear in the kitchen each day as I glance at the back door frame.  There you will find four rows of dashes, with dates by each, marking the growth of my children over the years.  The first dash, way down here by my knee has moved to the last dash, way up there over my head.  How did that happen?  A miracle?  Yes!—that’s it—a miracle!

Thanks to all of you for the Miracle of Rainsford.

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